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Installing Floating Cork Floors

How To Install

Download Cork Flooring Installation Instructions | PDF's
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file download of cork quick guideQuick Guide on How–to–Install a Cork Floor 280kb pdf | Our short installation guide for those with DIY experience.

PDF icon for file download of full installation guideFull Guide – Complete Installation Instructions on Installing your Cork Floor 880kb pdf | Our full set of DIY installation instructions.

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Cork Buying Guide Sections
Cork planks are generally installed as floating floors (also called glueless floors). Most floated cork floors are milled with interlocking joints on each tongue and groove. When installed, these joints lock together forming a solid floor.

The following instructions are for click and lock floating cork floors. Since there are a variety of click lock styles on the market, always follow your manufacturer's specific installation information and only use these instructions as a reference.

Tips and Tricks

  • Most manufacturer's highly recommend using an additional cork or foam underlayment beneath all floated cork floors, especially if one is not pre–attached. For more specific information about acceptable underlayments, see the full Installing Cork Flooring guide on®.
  • Consider calculating the number of rows of cork you'll need to complete your floor. If your first and last row are very different widths (for example, your first row is 12" and your last row is 2") re–calculate so that these rows are more equal.
  • Scribe fit your first and last row to match any contours in the wall. This ensures your cork floor goes down straight even if your walls are not.
  • Stagger all joints 2–3 times the width of a cork plank for an even looking floor. Avoid H–joints whenever possible.
  • Follow your manufacturer's recommendations for board length (usually no less than 10") when starting new rows. (You may be able to use the remainder of the plank you cut from the previous row.) Doing this helps ensure the joints are staggered evenly.
  • Never hit the cork flooring directly. Use a tapping block to move the cork planks into place, if approved by your manufacturer.
  • Many professional installers work from left to right, but always choose the direction that is most comfortable for you or recommended by the flooring manufacturer.

Install the Underlayment

Install your moisture barrier and underlayment (if desired) according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

  1. Layout the plastic sheeting above the whole subfloor. Sheeting should overlap 8" at all seams and extend up walls 2". Secure the entire length of each seam with waterproof tape (such as duct tape).
  2. Layout the cork or foam underlayment so it is flush with all walls. Tape all seams together. Do not overlap. Avoid placing underlayment seams directly on top of moisture barrier seams.

Install the First Row

Take extra time when installing the first row of floating cork. It is important that this row be straight even if the walls are not.

  1. Along the longest wall, measure out your expansion spacing in at least two places and snap a chalk line.
  2. Lay out the cork planks but DO NOT click together yet. Follow your manufacturer's recommendations when choosing to face the tongue or groove toward the wall. Add spacers to ensure your expansion spacing is adequate. Scribe fit planks where needed to match wall contours. Make sure this row is completely straight.
  3. Once satisfied with the fit, click and lock the first row of cork flooring together. Planks should fit tightly together to form an almost seamless floor.
  4. At the end of the wall, measure, cut, install and lock the last cork plank in place. Use a pull bar if needed to fit the plank between the wall and the first row. Add a spacer at the end of the first row.
  5. Evaluate the first row to ensure it is straight and level. Adjust where needed.

Install the Main Part of the Floor

  1. Use a partial plank (10" or longer in length) to start the second row. If needed, cut a full plank in half and use one half as your starter plank.
  2. Click and lock the cork plank to the first row.
  3. Work your way across the floor until you reach the last row. Place spacers along all walls to ensure adequate and equal expansion spacing.

Install the Last Row

  1. Measure out your expansion spacing in at least two places and snap a chalk line.
  2. Lay out the last row of cork planks. Scribe fit (if necessary) so that the flooring matches the contours in the wall. Make sure this last row is completely straight.
  3. Once satisfied with the fit, click and lock each plank in the last row together with the rest of the floor. Use a pull bar (if needed) to fit planks between the wall and the floor.
  4. Evaluate the last row to ensure it is straight and level. Adjust where needed.

If your cork floor does not require a top coat finish, you can begin using the floor as soon as you've locked the last plank in place.

Apply the Finish

Some manufacturers require that a top coat finish be applied to the whole floor once installed. This seals all seams and helps protect the floor from moisture and wear. ALWAYS follow your manufacturer's instructions if a finish is required for your floor. Not applying one may void your warranty.

  1. Sweep and/or vacuum the newly installed floor.
  2. Roll the recommended finish across the floor using a 3/8" foam roller. Apply one thick coat with long even strokes. Overlap roller paths slightly to ensure the whole floor is covered. Do not over roll.
  3. Allow the finish to dry completely according to the manufacturer's recommendations (usually 4 hours to the touch and 24 hours to dry completely).
  4. Allow the whole floor to cure completely (usually 8 days). Follow all the manufacturer's recommendations during this curing time.